Wednesday 29th January 2014,

Damascus postpones jailed activists trial for sixth time

Reporters365 January 27, 2014 No Comments

Syrian authorities on Monday postponed for the sixth time the trial of activist Mazen Darwish and his colleagues arrested a year ago, a Syrian media rights group said.
Journalist Darwish, Hussein Ghreir and Hani Zaitani were arrested in a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) where they work, in February 2012.
They have since been held on “terror” charges.
“The president of the counterterrorism court in Damascus… postponed the trial of journalist Mazen Darwish and his colleagues… till March 10,” the SCM said in a statement.
“For the sixth time, the court has postponed the… hearing,” said the SCM, which Darwish directed at the time of his arrest.
Speaking to AFP, Darwish’s wife and colleague Yara Badr said the reason behind the postponement was a lack of evidence offered to the court by the feared air force intelligence unit which arrested the men.
“They have no evidence, so rather than letting them go, they postpone the trial again,” said Badr, who was also arrested in the raid on the SCM but released soon after.
Rights organisations have also pushed for the release of Darwish, whose SCM was founded in 2004 to promote freedom of expression.
Badr had on Sunday appealed for the three men’s release, echoing a widespread claim that many peaceful activists arrested during Syria’s three-year revolt are held on trumped-up “terror” charges.
The court’s delays come “despite all the… calls by more than 20 international and Syrian human rights organisations that defend prisoners of conscience,” said the SCM.
In November 2013, a UN Human Rights Council’s working group described the detention of the three men as “arbitrary,” calling for their release.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain- based monitoring group, estimates some 17,000 people have gone missing in the war and tens of thousands are being held in government jails.
It says thousands of others have been kidnapped by armed rebel groups including Islamist militias.
The Observatory has described conditions in government prisons as “horrific”, with overcrowding, shortages and outbreaks of disease.
A UN-mandated probe last month charged Syrian government forces were waging a campaign of enforced disappearances to terrorise the population, amounting to crimes against humanity.

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